Century's Baldwin Theatre

71 Merrick Road,
Baldwin, NY 11510

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Showing 1 - 25 of 49 comments

GeorgeStrum
GeorgeStrum on August 30, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Yes by cracky I remember seeing Way of All Flesh and Susan and God back in the fall of 1940 but haven’t been thar since.

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Saw “Victor/Victoria” here in the early 80s-way after its initial release and engagements. I believe that by this time The Baldwin had become a dollar theatre

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on July 1, 2011 at 1:46 am

Lol, Bellerose-Floral Park had always been “iffy,” like Alsace-Lorraine. I grew up in Valley Streamn and as I remember, Floral Park spilled over the Queens-Nassau line.

robboehm
robboehm on June 28, 2011 at 3:02 am

Hey, a lot of stranger things have happened. The Bellerose Theatre is now in Floral Park, after having been in Bellerose for over 70 years. Seems they changed the Post office for the Nassau County portion of the village to Floral Park. The Queens County portion is still Bellerose. Go figure.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm

If the earlier Baldwin Theatre was on Grand, then the most likely explanation for the current address of this theater not being the 71 Merrick Road that Chuck found would be a renumbering sometime after 1933. The newspaper article quoted earlier said that the area around Merrick and Grand was the original center of the village’s business district. If growth later led to several small settlements expanding into one another, then a renumbering of the lots would be fairly likely to have happened.

robboehm
robboehm on June 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm

There was an earlier Baldwin Theatre on Grand Avenue. I established it on CT earlier this year based upon newspaper accounts. I have yet to establish a specific address. If I have an opportunity to access some really old phone books I may be able to do so. However, I’ve found that for listings prior to 1930 there are often only street names and no specific address. Life was simpler then.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Back on September 26, 2007, lostmemory said: “Was there another Baldwin Theater? A Midmer-Losh theater organ was installed in a Baldwin Theater in Baldwin, N.Y. in 1925.”

Chuck: Is it possible that the address you provided for this theater in the first comment was actually the address for the earlier Baldwin Theatre? It’s clear from more recent comments that the 1933 Baldwin Theatre is now the Baldwin Medical Plaza, and the Internet brings up addresses of of 865-869 Merrick Road for that building.

I’m thinking that either your source for the address was a pre-1933 publication, and actually belonged to the earlier Baldwin Theatre, or Baldwin has renumbered the lots on Merrick Road sometime since 1933. In either case, the current correct address of the former Baldwin Theatre is that of the Medical Plaza.

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on June 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I was born and raised in Valley Stream, and I was only in the Baldwin twice, but I’m as sad as any of you Baldwiners to see that the theater is gone, like so many of the theaters that we grew up with. The first time I drove out to the Baldwin was in 1972, to see the very obscure movie, “Rivals”. I’ve always been a Joan Hackett fan, and it was the only theater where the movie was playing. The following year I drove to the Baldwin again, to see “Night Watch,” which was ending its theatrical run (had the theater become a dollar venue?). That night was a very memorable experience, because near the end of the movie, which is a thriller, a woman sitting way down front let out a blood curdling scream, which turned my blood to ice and my 22 year old heart to stone.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 23, 2010 at 4:20 am

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of Friday, March 17, 1933, said that the new Baldwin Theatre would open that night. The opening feature was to be “Flesh” with Wallace Beery. The Baldwin Theatre was the 24th house in the Century Theatres chain, which had been founded more than twenty years earlier by A. H. Schwartz.

tommycannoli
tommycannoli on December 5, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Hey guys. you sure started the memories flowing after I read the above entries. We had lived on harrison ave, right around the corner from the old movie house. I can still remember the line when the Godfather was playing there. I read one of the entries above about Howies. I used to work for about an hour or two during the summers at Howies. I would pick up his breakfast from across the street, I CAN STILL SMELL THE AROMA. Howie was a special guy who really seemed to care about us kids. Someone mentioned the Venice In, some of the greatest pizza. I fondly remember going there with my brother and Dad on Sunday nights. He would have a beer while waiting for the pizza. He would say he couldn’t wait for us to get older and have a beer with him there. When the pizza was ready we would head home (2 minutes) and watch The Lawrence Welk Show. (guess I’m dating myself). I never got that beer with my Dad, He died a couple of years later, but I still have those memories. We attended Prospect Elementary School. What a school! Could not think of a better place to have started. If anyone has any pics of the old school, I would love to see them. I guess it was torn down in the 80’s. Baldwin was one heck of a place to grow up.

CConnolly1
CConnolly1 on December 28, 2007 at 2:16 am

Yes, Ed Solero, that is the building. It is right across the street from what was (and perhaps still is) a Blockbuster video store. In that little shopping center was the Carvels (again, that could still be there too).

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 27, 2007 at 8:25 pm

Ah, OK. Thanks, CConnolly, now I know the building you’re describing. It’s the building right before the church on the north side of Merrick just east of Grand Avenue. I’ll have to take a closer look next time I pass by, but it sure doesn’t bare any resemblance to a theatre! There’s a building further east down Merrick on the right hand side (currently a supermarket, I believe) that I’ve always thought looked like it might have been a small theatre at one point. It’s just across from the lake

CConnolly1
CConnolly1 on December 27, 2007 at 6:37 pm

It looks like a pretty modern looking but non descript office building. I remember when they built it, the pretty much ripped off the front of the building and then put in this kind of glassy atrium lobby “thing” where you could see through it into the stairs. Kind of 80s looking. There were some doctors offics in it at that time. The reason why you can’t remember what it looks like now is that they pretty effectively wiped out any resemblence to it ever being a movie theater.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 26, 2007 at 9:37 pm

Is the building still standing? If so, what currently occupies the site? I’ve passed through the area a number of times and can’t think of any structures on this block that resemble an old movie house.

CConnolly1
CConnolly1 on December 26, 2007 at 7:45 am

I finally got around to reading the article about the Baldwin theater in the NYTimes. And it’s a real heartbreaker. Despite being over 20 years old, it still echoes the sentiments of a lot of people and especially those of us on this website.

Here is the article:

February 16, 1986
ABOUT LONG ISLAND
By FRED MCMORROW
THE RKO BALDWIN, built when they named Long Island movie theaters after their villages, is at the top of a slope where its marquee can’t be missed if you’re downhill at Merrick Road and Grand Avenue, the original hub of this village’s business district.

The Baldwin always changed its feature attractions Wednesdays. But when it had a good thing going, it kept the same show Wednesday after Wednesday. ‘'Santa Claus: The Movie’‘ stayed on that marquee for two months of Wednesdays.

But that had to end with the holidays, and I kept watching the marquee for what would finally be ‘'Starting Wednesday.’‘ Even if I didn’t intend to see the next movie, I always had to know what it was. What’s-playing-at-the-Baldwin was vital community trivia around here. Yes: Was.

Nothing trivial replaced ‘'Santa Claus’‘ on that marquee. THE END did. What’s playing at the Baldwin? ’‘FOR SALE,’‘ in those big blue capital letters they use for the marquee title. What’s playing at the Roxy? What’s playing at the Astor? the Paramount? What’s happening all over has finally happened on Merrick Road between Park and Harrison Avenues.

The place where all our children and our friends' children discovered the magic of seeing a movie from the dark and on a great big screen, not the dinky business end of a television set, is not Baldwin’s only movie house. There is the newer Cinema, halfway between Sunrise Highway and the Southern State.

But the Cinema, which opened as a spacious, wide-screen house, was hardly a teen-ager when it was converted into a ‘'multiplex.’‘ And what advancement is that over the nickelodeon? Just one. The sound. But that is why the Cinema is surviving and the Baldwin is not.

The Baldwin opened in 1933. Howard Herrman, who was born down the block in the ‘'upstairs’‘ over the Herrman family stationery store, says he remembers it well. This well: ’‘Arthur E. Norton, the Superintendent of Schools, gave a big speech before the movie.’‘ (Pause.) ’‘Will you look at this, I can remember a middle initial, but I don’t remember the movie!’'

Neither do I, of course; we only moved here in 1959. But neither does the Baldwin Public Library. Its microfilm files of The Baldwin Citizen, the doyenne of this area’s weekly papers, skip 1933. But the ads show that in that era Wallace Beery, Mickey Rooney, Janet Gaynor, Norma Shearer, Grace Moore (you don’t remember ‘'One Night of Love’‘?), James Cagney and Beryl Mercer did their turns on the Baldwin’s screen. (Beryl Mercer? Cagney’s mother in ’‘Public Enemy’‘! I thought everybody knew that … ) My own sometimes reliable memory insists that at least once in the Baldwin, Clark Gable told Vivien Leigh after he rescued her from the burning of Atlanta and got her home to Tara that he was joining the Confederate service because he liked lost causes. Like this one. The former Eileen Palmer and I have made inquiries about the community chipping in to turn the Baldwin into a repertory theater, but nothing’s happening.

The Baldwin was not the village’s first movie house. A retired woman who lives near us remembers a store-sized theater on Grand Avenue around the corner from Howie’s. ‘'It cost a quarter,’‘ she said. ’‘My girlfriends and I saved up all week for Saturday. The piano player was always late and when he did get there he’d sit and study the music like it was a concerto or something and we’d clap and clap until he got started and the movie started. I had this awful crush on William S. Hart!’'

Yes. ‘'Come quick. Indians!’‘ The only silent I ever saw when movies weren’t called silents because there weren’t any talkies was ’‘The Lost World.’‘ It was shown in a Y.M.C.A. and the projectionist wasn’t very good and the film snapped just as the poor old confused dinosaur broke London Bridge. Or was it Tower Bridge?

The last movie the former Eileen Palmer and I saw at the Baldwin was ‘'Kiss of the Spider Woman.’‘ There were about seven other people in the fine old house. When the film ended, everybody left and nobody was coming in for the second show. I don’t think there was one.

Everybody in town is sorry about this, but then it’s everybody’s fault, including the movie makers. Movies aren’t any better than ever than they were when that empty slogan was dreamed up. Distributors' tastes aren’t any better, either. ‘'Spider Woman’‘ was the best film the Baldwin had had for I don’t know how long.

And I don’t know for how long because it’s been years since it was an imperative of my life to see at least one movie in a theater a week. Last year I think I saw three movies in theaters. I don’t have to wait for a movie to find its way to The Tube, but I do, and that is neither television’s fault nor the fault of the Baldwin’s owner, RKO Century Warner Theaters; it’s mine.

‘'No, don’t fault yourself,’‘ Morris Englander, the head of the real estate department of RKO Century Etc., said in a brief interview. ’‘The individual theater does not bring in what a multiplex does. That’s a fact of life.’'

And of course his company has watched the decline in attendance at the Baldwin just as all of us here have. He has a gentle, friendly manner, conveying over the phone the image of a man who is dedicated to theaters, but also to what he has to do. He declined, officially, to confirm a report that ‘'an architect’‘ had made a bid for the Baldwin that was rejected.

And he would not disclose the asking price, nor what kind of bids he was getting. But he gave me just the tip of a hint that the building would survive. Was there any possibility, I asked, pressing him, that it would be torn down to make room for one more row of condominiums?

‘'Well, it’s a building,’‘ Mr. Englander said, ’‘and we’re offering it as a building.’'

Vito
Vito on December 24, 2007 at 4:39 am

No Robert, it was just up the street on Jericho Trpk. But the DM did have an office in the Floral, heck of a nice guy, Mr.Murray I think was his name.

RobertR
RobertR on December 24, 2007 at 3:51 am

Vito
Was the home office in the Floral Theatre building?

Vito
Vito on December 24, 2007 at 3:37 am

The best part of working the Baldwin was the fact that it was a Century theatre, I worked most of the Century theatres during the hey days. The theatres were run very professionally, and always well maintained. Customer service was key, as was perfection in the film presentation.
We had a lot of rules, and if you worked a century theatre you were expected to give your best.
Does anyone remember Century’s policy of playing the star spangled banner at the start of the first show of every holiday?
The Home Office was located in Floral Park, so executives would
often stop by, and would come up to the booth and ask “do you need anything”?
When Century sold out it was the end of an era of showmanship which, except for National Amusements, is something you don’t see anymore.

RobertR
RobertR on December 24, 2007 at 3:21 am

Hey CConnolly welcome back.

CConnolly1
CConnolly1 on December 24, 2007 at 3:12 am

Hi…I haven’t been on this site in a long time because of chaning jobs and all. I was CConnolly but I lost my password and the site hasn’t sent it to me. Anyway…loved all the comments on “MY” theater, Century’s Baldwin.
To jgroom: if you were an usher there during that period, I definately walked by you or got some kind of service from you. I must’ve gone to the Baldwin every week during the summers of ‘75 and '76 and beyond. But those two stick out. Yes, I saw “The Island of Dr. Moreau there. Did you work there when that god awaful Joan Collins movie "Empire of the Ants” was there? Terrible movie but perfect for me and my older brother to go see and kill a couple of hours with. It was just such as nice place. So well maintained. And how about that wild floral print all over the auditorium? It hung over the little hallways leading to the exit doors in the back of the theater.
And I totally agree with you about how the theater’s closing (with “Rambo First Blood” in 1985) was the death knell for that little neighborhood. It was slowly sliding even before that but when I was a kid, it was a great place with Pergaments and Nassau Chemists and, of course, “Howies” with his ancient looking mother sitting in the back in that kitchen of his (only die hard Baldwinites will know what anyone means by Howies). And Carvels right across from the theater. The neighborhood wasn’t upscale, there wasn’t much to look at but there was always a lot to do and see. I think my generation (born in the 60s) was the last to experience, however fleetingly, the concept of neighborhood, neighbors and a sense of community. These multiplexes and movie malls. Some are nice but there totally impersonal.
The last movie I saw there was a really cute, very good movie called “Heaven Help Us” around 1985. I had not been in the theater for a few years and about halfway through the movie, I just happened to kind of look around at the auditorium. I noticed that the ceiling paint was chipping really badly and it was very dirty. I felt sad because I sensed that the theater’s time was ending. But I’m glad I got to see such a nice movie there for my last time.

Thanks everyone for writing with their memoris and for everyone who worked there, as a former patron, I thank you for your great work.

CConnolly1
CConnolly1 on December 24, 2007 at 3:12 am

Hi…I haven’t been on this site in a long time because of chaning jobs and all. I was CConnolly but I lost my password and the site hasn’t sent it to me. Anyway…loved all the comments on “MY” theater, Century’s Baldwin.
To jgroom: if you were an usher there during that period, I definately walked by you or got some kind of service from you. I must’ve gone to the Baldwin every week during the summers of ‘75 and '76 and beyond. But those two stick out. Yes, I saw “The Island of Dr. Moreau there. Did you work there when that god awaful Joan Collins movie "Empire of the Ants” was there? Terrible movie but perfect for me and my older brother to go see and kill a couple of hours with. It was just such as nice place. So well maintained. And how about that wild floral print all over the auditorium? It hung over the little hallways leading to the exit doors in the back of the theater.
And I totally agree with you about how the theater’s closing (with “Rambo First Blood” in 1985) was the death knell for that little neighborhood. It was slowly sliding even before that but when I was a kid, it was a great place with Pergaments and Nassau Chemists and, of course, “Howies” with his ancient looking mother sitting in the back in that kitchen of his (only die hard Baldwinites will know what anyone means by Howies). And Carvels right across from the theater. The neighborhood wasn’t upscale, there wasn’t much to look at but there was always a lot to do and see. I think my generation (born in the 60s) was the last to experience, however fleetingly, the concept of neighborhood, neighbors and a sense of community. These multiplexes and movie malls. Some are nice but there totally impersonal.
The last movie I saw there was a really cute, very good movie called “Heaven Help Us” around 1985. I had not been in the theater for a few years and about halfway through the movie, I just happened to kind of look around at the auditorium. I noticed that the ceiling paint was chipping really badly and it was very dirty. I felt sad because I sensed that the theater’s time was ending. But I’m glad I got to see such a nice movie there for my last time.

Thanks everyone for writing with their memoris and for everyone who worked there, as a former patron, I thank you for your great work.

baldwinusher
baldwinusher on July 17, 2007 at 7:13 am

Vito-Thank’s, I’ll follow that up,Baldwin

Vito
Vito on July 17, 2007 at 6:06 am

Sure do baldwin, I don’t remember him working the Freeport but he was one of the two full time projectionists working the Baldwin when I relieved there. I don’t think he is still working as a projectionists but you may be able to reach him through:
IATSE local 640, 103 Cooper Street, Babylon NY 11702

baldwinusher
baldwinusher on July 17, 2007 at 3:22 am

Vito,Do you know a projectionist by the name of Chuck Toma? After school he got me a job working for his dad in a gas station,In the early 70’s he was working in Freeport, Then I lost track.Baldwin

Vito
Vito on July 9, 2007 at 1:03 am

Well baldwin, I can tell you, we projectionists were always very greatful and kind to ushers. During those long 12+ hour grind days you kids were our only conection to the outside world. Ushers would get us our coffee and dinner and sometimes they were the only human contact we had all day. So thanks!
It was not to bad at the Baldwin since the booth was close to the main floor, but some of the theatres in the area like the Fantasy, Freeport and Grove had booths a mile in the sky and no one ever came up to visit. It could be a very lonely job sometimes.